UllrGrass 2020 Review: Celebration of Winter and Community
UllrGrass 2020 Review: A Celebration of Winter & Community
The 6th UllrGrass Music & Beer Festival took place in Parfet Park in Golden, Colorado Friday, January 24th – Sunday, January 26th 2020.
Ullr is a fickle God.
Anyone who lives in Colorado can attest to that. Just this week, we saw temps go from 75ºF and sunny to -1ºF and full-on blizzard, in 36 hours. Of course, if you can bring a snowball into Congress, climate change must be fake news. But I digress…
Honoring such a fickle god with a music festival is a tricky undertaking, especially when said festival takes place in Golden, Colorado. Outdoors. In January.
This being our fourth time attending and covering UllrGrass Music and Beer Festival, we have become used to enduring whatever Ullr chooses to throw at us. This year, Ullr’s pitching arm was noticeably tired, as he lobbed at us the easiest of softballs. We swung for the fences and hit it out of the park!
When UllrGrass weekend in early 2020 came upon us, we were treated to unseasonably (do we really have seasons anymore?) warm and beautifully sunny weather across the Front Range of Colorado. That didn’t in any way diminish this yearly celebration of winter. Instead, it enhanced and elevated it.
Golden, Colorado is a funny little town. It has become a tourist beacon, conveniently situated en route to the mountains from many Front Range areas, a short hop to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and an easy access point to lots of hiking, biking, fishing, and climbing. When visiting Golden, however, it’s not the tourism that immediately jumps out, but the overwhelming sense of community.
This feeling of community is what carries and drives UllrGrass each year.
UllrGrass was started by longtime Golden residents Chris and Susannah Thompson as a celebration of winter, bringing the community of Golden together. They have achieved and surpassed that – evolving this festival into not just a winter celebration that bonds the community, but a celebration of the community itself.
The people of Golden and those who join them from other parts of Colorado fully embrace the Ullr-ness of it all. They come together each year in Parfet Park, at the heart of Golden, donned in their best furs, braids, kilts, and horns to revel in winter, to share in nature, to dance and be merry, despite what Ullr has in store.
There exists equally an embrace and a defiance of the winter god.
Bring it on, Ullr!
This year, however, Ullr took his foot off of the gas for a brief moment and furs were shed as the sunshine filled the Front Range.
The music is, of course, the real reason behind this yearly celebration. Sure, the community bonds together to rejoice in winter, but it’s the talent on stage that churns the celebration.
UllrGrass 2020 was no exception.
With the always impressive Ullr All-stars at the helm, Parfet Park is temporarily transformed into an amazing music festival. The All-stars this year consisted of Drew Emmitt, Andy Thorn and Greg Garrison of Leftover Salmon, along with Allie Kral and Adam Aijala of Yonder Mountain String Band. Local favorites Coral Creek and Head for the Hills also anchored the lineup, and this year’s crowd was treated to a rare appearance by Minnesota jamband The Big Wu. Along with Adam Greuel and Friends, FY5, Julian Davis and the Situation, Freiya (the Women of UllrGrass), Laney Lou and the Birddogs, Rum Creek, Ghost Town Drifters and more, UllrGrass attendees enjoyed a stellar lineup of talent all weekend long.
With Allie Kral and Drew Emmitt listed as artists at large, and pickers like Adam Greuel, Jack Cloonan and Andy Thorn roaming the grounds, the UllrGrass collaborations drove the music of this Colorado festival. Fans have learned to read between the lines of the UllrGrass lineup to get a peek into where the magic is going to take place.
This year, much of the musical magic at UllrGrass took place under the Big Top tents.
After the sun sets on Golden, even the warmest of winter days will turn in a heartbeat, and many are unprepared for the drastic temperature shifts, being fooled by the sunny afternoon. Furs come out of the pile and layers are quickly re-donned as the Colorado cold reminds us where we are!
Ullr be damned, this year the festival responded with 2 tents in Parfet Park to keep the party going well into the chilly evening. After a few years of rotating the evening activities around different venues, it seems that UllrGrass has at last found the best solution.
The tents proved to be an amazing venue – a large Big Top and a smaller Big Top Saloon for ‘tweener sets – keeping the festival dancing together at Parfet Park. For even more indoor action, across the street in the Mountaineering Center, Ullr’s Opera House hosted more picking well into the morning.
And then, of course, there is the beer.
While music is the main attraction to UllrGrass, beer is a very close second.
The Saturday afternoon UllrGrass Beer Fest is one of the most anticipated Colorado afternoons of the season. This year, with temps in the 50’s and the sun blazing, we couldn’t ask for a better afternoon for tasting countless brews from Colorado and beyond.
UllrGrass has now endured for 6 years. There have been a few changes along the way, but there are more constants than differences from year to year.
We have come to expect amazing musical collaborations, with the best pickers in Colorado joining together, throwing down, and truly having a blast on stage while we are lucky enough to watch and listen.
We have come to expect to drink a lot of amazing beer.
We have come to expect an amazing gathering of friends and community.
Every year we see the best that Golden and the surrounding areas has to offer, as all ages come in their best outfits and dance and sing together in whatever elements Ullr has in store.
Ryan Cavanaugh has been described by many as one of the most driven musicians touring today. Read our interview to learn about his roots, his style and what the future holds for this banjo phenomenon.
Cody “Chicago Farmer” Diekhoff is releasing his sixth studio album, “Flyover Country.” The album has a common thread, a love and respect for regular folks, those who might be overlooked and underappreciated.
Greensky Bluegrass will return to the 19th Annual Northwest String Summit, held at Horning’s Hideout in North Plains, Oregon on July 16 – 19, 2020.
Photos by Nancy Isaac. Videos by Kyle Isaac and Festy GoNuts. The 5th Winter String Fling was held this weekend (January 3 - 4, 2020) at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom and the Other Side. As usual, this 2-night event brought together the finest in...
Strings & Sol returned to Mexico for the 8th year this past December, and as usual, it seemed to leave a huge impression on everyone that attended. Here are the fan-favorite moments from Strings & Sol 2019:
The 6th Annual Blue Ox Music Festival has just announced Greensky Bluegrass as the headlining act. Leftover Salmon will be returning in 2020 as well.
2019 was an amazing year for live music and music festivals. We are looking back with the First Annual Festy Awards! Check out the best of 2019 in Music Festivals…
Sticks N’ Thorns is the new project from Leftover Salmon banjoist Andy Thorn and flatpicking guitarist Jon Stickley of the Jon Stickley Trio. Read on for tour dates and more…
Winter Folk Music and Photography Showcase is a 12- day event that takes place over 4 consecutive weekends throughout February and into March, 2020, in Longmont, Colorado.